Apple continues to dominate the wearables industry

AirPods and Apple Watch
AirPods and Apple Watch (Image credit: iMore)

What you need to know

  • Market research shows Apple continues to dominate the wearables industry.
  • Of the 84.5 million global shipments in Q3, Apple's market share was 35%.
  • Its 29.5 million units shipped was a 200% increase on the same quarter in 2018.

This story was updated to include Neil Cybart's comments on why IDC's figures may not be accurate/

Market research suggests that Apple continues to dominate the wearables market, thanks to Apple Watch and its AirPods.

According to IDC via 9to5Mac, the global wearables market saw 84.5 million devices ship in Q3 2019. 29.5 million of those belong to Apple thanks to its AirPods, Apple Watch and Beats headphones. The figure marks a 200% increase in wearables shipments for Apple year-on-year and means that it dominates the market with a share of 35%.

By comparison, the next closest competitor was Xiaomi, who shipped 12.4 million units and holds 14.6% of the market share. Samsung came third with just shy of 10%.

When it comes to wearables, headphones account for nearly 50% of the entire market, at 40.7 million units. Interestingly enough, wristbands, rather than smartwatches hold second place. They represent a 22.7% and a 20.7% market share respectively. The growth of headphones was its highest ever year-on-year.

Commenting on Apple's performance, IDC said:

Apple captured the top position thanks to the growing popularity of the Apple Watch, AirPods, and Beats headphones. Looking ahead, the price reduction on the Series 3 Watch as well as the launch of AirPods Pro leaves Apple in a strong position to maintain dominance in this market for the short term.

However, not all analysts agree with IDC. Neil Cybart has taken to Twitter to suggest that IDC's prediction of 29.5 million wearables is wrong:

He went on to say:

The only way one can accurately model Apple's wearables business (unit sales, ASP, revenue) is to build a robust financial model that includes every piece of wearables commentary from Apple management going back to 2015. It's a jigsaw puzzle. Very few people do the work.Why are these firms so wrong on Apple shipment numbers? They likely aren't modeling the company financially. Instead, they are probably continuing to use survey / retailer-supplied information which is flawed / not accurate.If IDC's Apple shipment number is so wrong, why should anyone have confidence in IDC's other estimates?These firms can no longer plug in reported unit sales data from Apple. Instead, they are on their own, and their flawed methodology becomes apparent.

Cybart believes that without Apple's own figures to go on, most firms using their own unit sales data cannot possibly hope to piece together all of Apple's wearables business, especially given that they are likely using survey/retailer-supplied data which is flawed and can produce in accurate results.

So, if the figures are correct, Apple will certainly be encouraged by its continued strong performance in the sector. Notably, the popularity of its wearable tech is reflected in the massive growth seen year-on-year, confirmation that Apple may look to this as an increasingly important source of revenue going forward. We know for certain that Apple's most recent set of financial results saw its highest ever Q4 revenue, fuelled by accelerating growth from sectors including its wearables. So whilst these figures might not be on the money, we definitely know that Apple is enjoying strong performance from its wearables sector.

Stephen Warwick
News Editor

Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design. Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9